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Ethically Speaking

For those of us desiring to be in commerce we have to abide by the rules. The rules that dictate where, when, and how we operate, are written all over the place. Your local City Hall or the County Clerk’s Office; all the way up to your States Capital. We pay the appropriate fees and attain the necessary documentation and we’re off. Not so fast, my friend! There are some rules that are unspoken, but always implied and therefore necessary for a business to run successfully.

Since the beginning of time there have been appropriate agreements that were the standards of running businesses. Most people today don’t realize that those agreements addressed the Ethics of commerce and just how important they were and still are today.

Socrates said “Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possible be possessed of for credit is like fire; once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear”. When you run a business you are in essence asking the potential customer to give you credit (to trust you and what you’re selling before they’ve even touched, tasted, worn, or viewed the finished job of whatever product or service you represent; blindly).

Then there was the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” which was an informal agreement between two or more parties. Typically oral and just simply understood as part of an unspoken agreement by convention or it may have been written through mutually beneficial etiquette. The essence of the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” is that it relied upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment rather than being in any way legally enforceable although by many and for a very long time it was the beginning or end of a feud when the honorable thing was not done. Most of us operating today; operate using this method. We even add a good old handshake to seal the deal.

As time moved on “Word is Bond” was uttered by the masses without truly realizing what they were uttering; or just how big a meaning those three little words implied. Those three little words mean that if I give you my word that something will be done or happen; then it will! When we promote to the potential customers we are stating unequivocally that we stand behind what we say (whatever your company name, slogan or tag line is) which means that when you become an entrepreneur, you first stand in front of your product to pitch it and once it’s sold or provided; you need to stand behind it!

As business people we are held to a higher standard and should recognize that we have a responsibility to operate our businesses in an ethical manner which means that whatever your business is, it should have a moral and social consciousness to operate above board and respectably. Once you put your name on it or behind (whatever cutesy name you gave your business), it’s all you have. When you operate ethically; your reputation will grow and most likely prosper, but when you choose not to (and it is a choice) your business will most likely fail and your name and that of your business will not be worth the sign it’s written on out front.

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About the Author

Carla McClure, The Memphis Bazaar
3540 Summer Ave. # 403
Memphis, TN 38122

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